Full Name: Ali Ahmed Karti
Position: Foreign Minister of Sudan
Political Affiliation: National Congress Party (NCP)
Education: Faculty of Law, University of Khartoum’
Sudan’s current foreign minister, Ali Karti, represents a younger generation of Islamists within Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) who are starting to rise through the ranks and acquire senior positions. His appointment in 2010 is probably a reward for his role as a commander of the Popular Defence Force (PDF) militias in the 1990s. Karti is also a financial heavyweight, having purchased Khartoum’s Friendship Hotel for $85 million.
Whilst his Islamist credentials are impeccable, his position has forced him to engage in a delicate balancing act. On one hand, he is the minister responsible for placating the West, whilst on the other hand he still finds it necessary to make the kind of bellicose statements that will appease the regime’s core of support within the Islamic movement. In February 2012 Karti admitted that relations with the United Sates were in a ‘state of fluctuation’, claiming that this was a result of the divide within the United States between the administration and the Christian/human rights lobby. The next month he threatened to expel the American Diplomatic Mission from Sudan on account of statements made by its members regarding the outbreak of famine in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
At other times, his policy towards the Western nations has appeared dovish. In a recent address given at Chatham House, he praised the system of education established by the British in the colonial days – ‘in which we enjoyed the company of so many good people’ and noting ‘It connected so many Sudanese and scholars with British culture and English language, and also in other fields of studies – I am one of those who graduated from the faculty of law, Khartoum University’. He has frequently pleaded with the US to remove Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, reminding the American administration of his government’s supposed co-operativeness over the implementation of the CPA and willingness to share intelligence with the CIA regarding terror suspects hosted by the Sudan in the 1990s.
At times, his eagerness to present a moderate face to the West has set him against members of his own administration. Although his pronouncements towards South Sudan have at times been bellicose, he was the only member of the regime who attempted to defend the mooted ‘four freedoms’ agreement, whereby the governments of the two Sudans would extend freedoms of movement, residence, economic activity and property to each other’s citizens whilst they were acting as their hosts.
In May 2012 – without mentioning President Omar al-Bashir by name – he publicly criticized speeches made by the president describing the SPLM as ‘an insect’ that needed to be disciplined ‘with a stick’. Karti observed that “The talk that they [SPLM leaders] are a group that only understands the stick was interpreted to be referring to the poem of [Abu El-Tayib] El-Mutanabi that says “you shall not buy a slave without a stick” and the term insect was likened to the use of the term cockroaches by the Hutu [ethnic group] against the Tutsi during the Rwandan massacres.”
In November 2012 Karti criticized a decision taken in 2009 to expel 13 aid groups from Darfur following the indictment of President Omer Al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court over war crimes.
Ali Karti Links
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